Sanaa Travel Guide

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Sofia Papadimitriou

Sana’a, the capital of Yemen is spectacularly beautiful. It's a fascinating city with unique architecture. It seems as if you were back in the middle ages in some tale of Arabian Nights. The way people dress and the way the buildings look has not changed the last thousand years. even new-Sana looks and feels old. The city is set in a pretty valley highlighted by rugged mountains.

The houses of old Sana’a are known as ’tower houses’ with some reaching eight storeys. In old Sana’a there are more than 14,000 of such houses. From the middle of old Sana’a cow market (Soq al-bakar), one can walk 500m in any direction without coming across new buildings. The ground and first floors of the old city houses are built of stone with the upper floors being built of mud. The floors are separated from one another with a strip of the same building material. The rooms are lit with marble arched stained-glass windows. The exterior walls are decorated with ornaments coated with lime in an up- Dated architectural style and similar materials. The ground floors are used as stores, while the large first floors are used for entertaining. There are also rooms allocated for women and children. The Mafraj is the male domain, located at the top of the house, and is a rectangular room with broad windows allowing good sight of the surrounding. It is the most decorated and beautiful room in the house.

A new quarter was added to Sana’a in the 14-th century called Quarter of Beer al-Azab, which was populated by the senior officials. This quarter was distinct in its architectural style differing from that of Old Sana’a with regard to orchards and fountains. In the middle of the 16th century, Sana’a again expanded by adding the ”Qa’a Al-Yahud”, The Jewish Quarter”.

Old Sana’a was encircled by rampart (Sor) dating back to the first century but it grew with the expansion of the city to include the new quarters. The rampart was in the shape of an 8, and used to have six gates, four of which were used for the old city. These gates were closed each night at 8.00 o’clock and were opened before the dawn prayer at 4.00 am. Today only the southern gate (Bab Al-Yemen) has survived. Many parts of the rampart together with its towers have collapsed but still some parts exist. Particularly the eastern and the southern part adjacent to Bab Al-Yemen.�


April 25, 2005 change by richardosinga

June 07, 2005 change by giorgio

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